Saturday, July 12, 2008

A List not dead, but expanding interactively

There has been a post by an obscure blogger called Jim Kukral. He says the blogosphere's A List is dead. Blogebrities are legend, not current reality.

The complaint seems to be echoed in some Twitter messages: A Listers are arrogant, and they get massive traffic, regardless of how important or intelligent their content is. If a Robert Scoble, Jason Calacanis, or Kevin Rose say or do something, no matter what, the web lemmings swarm toward it and praise it inordinately.

This could be a clever ploy by Jim Krukal to place himself higher than his envied, superior colleagues. They're more popular and celebrated than Krukal. They attract more web traffic than he does. A Listers who monetize their blogs with ads are making more money. He declares them over-rated, irrelevant, disappearing.

I don't know Jim's deeper motivations, but his attack seems misguided and malformed.

That's an easy way for mediocrity and slouch-sourcing to appear to be transcendent, towering indecently above their betters. But it won't work.

While it's true that we have Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, and Plurk as tools for advising each other, still, in most cases, the A List blog pioneers keep us moving forward. I respect A Listers for blazing the trail that we're all traveling on. Most of them have not lowered themselves to excessive self-promotion or narcissistic triva. They keep discovering and beta testing the technology and strategies that are emerging.

Average social media community members are, like most bloggers, telling each other what they ate for lunch, what mood they're in at this moment, and how they can't activate their new iPhone. That kind of personal life-casting is a valid and necessary element in the universal Rise of Individual Voice. It's digital democracy.

But it's not altruistic. It's the game of voyeur and exhibitionist, those who love to self-reveal and those who love to hear about the life of another person, a net neighbor, fellow online community member.

A Listers tend to be great writers and good in psychology.

A Listers are typically more obsessed externals than internals.

They obsess over technology and share their frustrations and experiments, their explorations and recommendations.

Some A Listers have a special lifestyle, credentials, or position in society.

They generally have something of benefit to share. More than just their personality and writing style. If all they did was talk about their personal life, they wouldn't remain A Listers very long, unless they're a pre-blogging celebrity in film, music, politics, or some other admired or newsworthy field.

Of course, A Listers did not campaign or propagadize to achieve their status. And the whole concept of A Listers, as an elite group, is a primitive notion.

The perception of an existing A List, whose worth is judged by popularity, is a relic from the pre-web past. Idolization of an A List is an archaic remnant of privileged hierarchy and superior priesthood. But the blogosphere's A List evolved primarily via organic methods with viral bursts.

Those bloggers and geek celebrities we emulate or despise, are they guilty of something? What? Who forces you to idolize them and feel inferior to them? Do we hope to iconoclastically triumph through oedipoedic patricidal indignation and dethroning?

What contribution do A List bloggers make to the blogosphere, to you and me?

It takes A Listers, with their multitudes of messages and followers, to burn up the Twitter servers, experiment with controversy and radical maneuvers, and provoke the rest of us to defend and define the evolving, mutating blogosphere.

Ordinary mortals are moving on up into the ephemeral realms of Web 2.0 popularity, with a tentative notoriety, but not dethroning the early giants. Slacker trolls erupt in a frenzy of foot-shooting and ankle-biting: their use of blogs and Twitter to attack bloggers and Twitterers is simultaneously hypocritical and self-defeating.

And the web surges on.

Web 2.0 keeps reinventing it's A List of thought leaders and traffic drivers, as the old run faster and the young soar higher. It's a new business environment, composed of risk-resolvers and strategy geniuses. They're the icon smashers and tradition disrupters: shoving aside the discredited, old-fashioned MSM, and gleefully improving and reconfiguring the new media.

A List dead?

A vain wish for the Amanda Chapel amateur team trolls. Unconstructive, the best they can manage is to complain about how social media is destroying their grandiose hierarchies and the rule of the few.

It's the quality of interactions that occur in a social media community, or an individual blog, that give it value. Beneficial peer-to-peer interaction is something you can neither buy nor seduce. It's an organic on its way to becoming cataclysmic.

The what-I-had-for-lunchers provide an easy target for the blogophobic cave-dwellers who want the whole web revolution to go away like it never happened.

That's why the A Listers are still vital, valiant warriors for the web revolution. They're doing a lot of the blogocombat that keeps the internet, web, and blogosphere a paradise for free expression. Let's pause to remember, without A Listers like Evan Williams, there would be no Twitter enabling you to attack A Listers.


NathanaelB said...

Totally agree - thanks, you've saved me having to write this :-)

Billy Dennis said...

Are some so-called "A Listers" no longer adding anything to the Blogosphere that's new, fresh and important? Sure.

Are some of these guys running on reputation and personality, rather than news and fresh ideas? Yeah.

Are others still churning out innovation and unique insights? You bet.

Are services like Twitter leveling the "playing field" so to speak. Oh, Hell ya.

Are a lot of people threatened. Hope so.